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Blind painter Dmytro Didorenko

 

Dmytro Didorenko has always, as long as he remembers himself, had an ambition to be an artist. Other boys among his friends wanted to be pilots, astronauts or firefighters but he dreamt only of brushes and paints.

 

His secondary education completed, he wanted to enroll at an art school, but was drafted into the army instead. During his service, he was trained, among other things, as a sapper, that is military engineer who lays, detects, and disarms mines. Little did he know that it would prove to be his undoing. After his discharge from the army, he did get enrolled at the Art and Industrial Design Institute in Kharkiv. Everything seemed set on the way of his becoming a painter, but the envious gods evidently had something else on their invidious and scheming minds. They put Dmytros determination to a terrible test.

In the early 1990s, he joined the Poshuk (Search) public organization which was engaged in looking for the unmarked graves of soldiers killed in the Second World War. The Poshuk members tried to establish the identity of the remains and the time of the soldiers death. During one of such expeditions, a WWII mine was discovered during the digging. The place was close to a village, and examining the mine, Dmytro saw that it would be highly dangerous to leave it as it was; there was no way of informing the authorities and calling the sappers  no mobile phones were available; the village did not have a telephone. He decided to use his army skills and disarm the mine. He failed  and the mine exploded. He was lucky not to get killed right away, but the damage was great.

His friends rushed to the village and talked someone into giving them a horse-drawn wagon. Dmytro, oozing blood from his many wounds, was placed onto the wagon and taken to a place from which a call to the ambulance could be made. The ambulance took Dmytro to a hospital where an urgent operation was made. Dmytro had lost a lot of blood and at one point apparent death was the state he was in. The continued and highly efficient medical efforts saved his life  but he lost his sight. He refused to believe that nothing could be done about it. He turned for help to medical luminaries, but their verdict was unanimous  the physical damage to the eyes was so extensive that it precluded getting his sight back. He was doomed to live the rest of his life in the darkness of the blind. Dmytro was twenty four years old.

Though blind, he continued to see night dreams in full color. And his desire to paint seemed only to grow rather than diminish. He fell into the blackest of depressions and there seemed to be no way out of it.

Once, a friend of his suggested having an exhibition of his old works organized  old in the sense of the pre-accident. It was then that Dmytro rebelled against the darkness  he had already created a lot of new pictures in his mind, he could see them so clearly in his minds eye, and he was confident there should be a way of exteriorizing them in some way, making them visible to others!

The easiest part was the canvass  he could easily assess the size and texture by touch. Dmytro began to experiment with ways and techniques of painting pictures without actually seeing the results of his work. He began by arranging little jars with paint in such a manner that he would know for sure which jar contained which paint. The jars with paints were placed within easy and sure reach in such a manner that he knew for sure what color he was about to use. He learnt to achieve hundreds of hues and tints of colors by mixing paints, something that even a sighted person but not endowed with the gift of a painter, would not be able to do. Friends were of a great help, particularly at the early stages.

The next step was to make stencils, patterns, French curves, gauges and cutouts that would allow him to create certain shapes on the canvas without seeing them. It would take dozens upon dozens of such stencils to paint, say, an apple. The blind artists creations are rather highly stylized and are closer to non-figurative rather than figurative art, with the main expressive emphasis being put on color rather on line or shape.

Once the work has begun, Dmytro can hold what has already been done in his memory so well that no overleaping occurs. It is probably similar to a good chess player who can play a game without actually seeing the chessboard and chess pieces on it.

Dmytro has proven he could do seemingly impossible  he can create art without seeing his creation! There was the famous case of a deaf musician creating music  Dmytro has convincingly demonstrated that a blind artist can create art.

Gradually, he mastered the technique of painting without brushes but with wads and stencils to such an extent that people who do not know of his predicament would hardly believe that his pictures have been painted by a blind person.

Blind painting, Dmytros style, is a time-consuming, laborious, painstaking process. His perseverance has brought amazing results  not only has he achieved impressive results and has learnt to do what seems impossible, but also he has overcome his depressions and gained in optimism. Dmytro, who is 42, believes that the progress of medical science and practice will make it possible to regain the most precious gift of sight.

 

Sweet Island.

 

Secret Train of Thought.

 

Quiet Flows the Don.

 

I Relax and Watch a Shadow on the Wall.

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